There’s no long-term trend talk of any agriculture commodity sector, it seems, that doesn’t include at least some reference to China. After all, it’s not just a populous country, it’s a huge economic driver and consumer of Canadian agriculture products.
Imagine, then, what it would mean to have the Chinese market closed, a market worth $2.0 billion in 2015, accounting for 40% of Canada’s canola seed exports. That nearly happened this past fall, when China was insisting on tightened dockage limits to Canadian canola — from 2.5% to 1% (attainable, but cumbersome and expensive). The issue? Blackleg, and the fear that the disease could be imported in to China through canola seed shipments.
Then, in late September, Canada’s Prime Minister and China’s Premier Li Keqiang announced a signed deal to keep China’s borders open to Canadian canola through to 2020.
What happened? A lot of behind-the-scenes research, political discussions, trips overseas, and face-to-face meetings, explains Canola Council of Canada president Patti Miller. In the Canola School below, Miller lays out how the Canola Council works on behalf of growers and industry to resolve huge trade issues like this one, and how agriculture and government work together, sometimes across oceans, to keep borders open to trade.